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Looking for an easy, delicious side dish? Try this quick Southern cheese grits recipe. It’s so creamy and cheesy and great with any meal.
I made these grits on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl and pitmaster Rodney Scott said he really enjoyed them.
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Table of Contents
What are grits?
Grits are a popular Southern dish served for breakfast or as a side dish with cooked meat or seafood. They can be sweet or savory.
Yellow grits are made with yellow corn kernels. White grits are made with white corn.
The corn kernels are dried and then ground. You should be able to find either stone-ground grits or instant grits in your grocery store in the cereal aisle near the oatmeal.
The main differences between the different types of grits are the processing method, texture, cooking time, flavor and nutritional value.
Stone-ground grits undergo less processing, making them richer in flavor and higher in nutrients. People choose instant grits or quick grits for their convenience and faster cooking times. They have a milder flavor.
The choice between the two depends on your preferences and the time you have available for cooking.
- Chicken Broth: While you can make this recipe with water, using chicken broth makes it so much more flavorful.
- Half and Half: Half and half is a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream. It helps add richness to the grits.
- Instant Grits: Make quick cheese grits by using instant grits. I generally use Quaker quick 5-minute grits or Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Corn Grits / Polenta.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted is fine.
- Shredded Cheese: Use whatever type of cheese you like. I use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese. For a saltier flavor, add some Parmesan cheese. For a smoky flavor, use smoked gouda cheese.
Substitutions: To make this dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth. Instead of half and half, you can use milk or cream.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
How to cook cheese grits
- STEP ONE: Place the chicken broth and half and half in a large sauce pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- STEP TWO: Whisk in the quick cooking grits. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until thickened, stirring frequently.
- STEP THREE: Whisk in cheese. Cook for 2-3 more minutes until the cheese is melted and the grits have a creamy texture. Season with salt and granulated garlic.
How to serve keyword
Spoon the cooked smooth creamy grits into a serving bowl. Garnish with two pats of butter, shredded cheese and diced green onions.
Crispy bacon crumbles, freshly ground black pepper, and hot sauce also make great toppings.
Serve immediately, grits start to harden as they cool to room temperature.
Store leftover cheese grits in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can save it for 5-7 days.
Reheat leftover grits in the microwave or in a pot on the stove over low heat. Mix in a little milk or half and half to restore the creaminess.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Use chicken broth instead of water for rich flavor
- To save time, use instant grits
- Experiment with different flavors of shredded cheese
- For the best creaminess, shred your own cheese
Frequently Asked Questions
Make cheese grits by cooking dried ground corn in boiling liquid and seasoning it with butter, cheese, salt, and garlic powder.
Grits and polenta are very similar. Polenta is popular in Italy and is generally made of yellow corn. Grits are common in the Southern U.S. and can be made of yellow or white corn.
While you can cook polenta creamy like grits, some people shape it into firm cakes that you can grill or fry.
Mild, medium or sharp cheddar cheeses are great with grits. Use pepper jack to add a little heat or smoked gouda to add a smokey touch. Parmesan is a good choice if you prefer grits with a salty, nutty finish.
If you’re looking for even creamier grits, stir in softened cream cheese or soft crumbled goat cheese. If you use goat cheese, the grits will be a little more tart.
To make sweet grits, omit the shredded cheese and granulated garlic. Instead, stir in white sugar or brown sugar to your preferred sweetness level. Start with 1 tablespoon at a time.
Garnish with candied pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
What to Serve with Grits
For breakfast, serve grits with a fried egg, poached egg, sauteed spinach, blistered tomatoes or bacon strips. For main dish ideas, see below.
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Quick Creamy Southern Cheese Grits
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup instant grits
- 4 ozs cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ozs pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 2 pats butter
- 2 tbsp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 green onion, chopped
- Simmer: Bring broth and half and half to a simmer in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Cook: Whisk in the grits. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Add Cheese: Mix in cheese. Cook for 2-3 more minutes until melted.
- Season: Season with salt and garlic to taste.
- Garnish: Garnish with 2 pats butter, shredded cheese and diced green onion.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.